Etauchingpang more of a success than anticipated - organisers

Stabroek News
August 26, 2001

Etauchingpang - the just concluded celebration which marked the tenth anniversary of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) was hailed as being much more of a success than the organisers expected. Etauchingpang is the Arecuna word for `We celebrate'.

Apart from the cultural aspects and lifestyle depicted in food, craft, songs, dances and skits, a number of Amerindians who have given outstanding service to their communities and as such to the country were given special awards.

Among the honourees were four-time Amerindian captain of Santa Rosa John Atkinson, teacher/culturalist Basil Rodrigues, granny/midwife Thomasa Torres, Jesuit Priest George Vanderwood, author/Arawak linguist Canon John Bennett, nurse Josephine Atkinson, teacher among Wai-Wai people Dennis Paul and ophthalmologist Dr George Norton.

APA Project Coordinator Jean La Rose told Stabroek News that

"in the circumstances -- which included financial constraints, the uncertainty of the weather which in hinterland areas affects transportation as well -- the activity was a success. In addition we were able to cover our costs."

She noted, too, that since the end of the activity there has been a number of recommendations as to how future events could be improved on.

To an extent the rainy weather did affect the participants from travelling with craft and food items which should have been on show at the two-day Etauchingpang. In addition, some participants from Sawariwau had to swim across the Rupununi River to get transportation to the city. This prevented them from travelling with their local beverage, tasso (dried beef), farine and craft.

The Wai-Wais, led by Touchao Paul Chekema, left Gunns Strip in the Deep South Rupununi on July 16 to arrive in the city for the event on the day before the activities began on August 11. They trekked for two weeks wading across many creeks along the way before they arrived at Aishalton where they joined the party for the city on the Georgetown/Lethem trail. The trail at this time is more rugged than usual because of the rainy season and they could not bring children with them.

Those contingents from areas closer to the coastland such as Santa Rosa in Moruca included many children who were very much a part of the programme along with their elders.

La Rose said that the feedback from those who attended the activity was encouraging and many said they would like to see a repeat of it next year. However, she said that it would be too early at this stage to say whether that would be possible.

Officer of the APA Ivor Marslowe told Stabroek News that they had made provision for just about 2,000 on the first day but according to tickets and gate receipts there were much more there were about 5,000 people. Gate and ticket receipts the following night accounted for more than the previous evening.

Many persons of Amerindian descent said that it was probably one of the biggest gatherings of Amerindians on the coastland and it served as a reunion for many as they savoured the taste of local dishes such as `toma' and `kadakura' and beverages such as `paiwari', `casiri' and `kari' made from the cassava.

There were other wines made from a number of fruits including jamoon.

However, on the first day they lamented the fact that indigenous food was insufficient. There was a particular group of persons originating from Kabakaburi in the NorthWest (Region One) who took along their food comprising curried crabs and morocut cooked in coconut milk. This did not stop them from buying cassava bread, pepperpot, fish, deer and labba which were on sale the following evening.

The participants were identified by their costumes with those from the Rupununi being more exotic and creative than their North West and Mazaruni districts counterparts. The costumes from Region Two were also outstanding.

In terms of support from business enterprises, La Rose said that it was "slow in coming at first but in the final week there was a build up. Among the major sponsors were Banks BIH, Western Union, Bounty Chicken Farm, Courts, Demerara Bank Ltd, National Bank of Industry and Commerce, Pritipaul Investments, Geddes Grant Guyana Ltd, Edward Beharry Company Ltd. A number of others companies she noted donated food items including bread, rice, chowmein -- some of which they carried back to sustain them on their return journey.

The organisers, she said, were happy about the support shown by those who assisted at late notice, the commitment from the participants themselves "who gave us their all... even though they travelled long distances and in some instances paid their own costs. They did not have five-star accommodation but put up with the accommodation provided." She noted too the support from non-APA members who volunteered their services including the loan of cooking utensils, barbecue grills and kitchens. Their own staff members, too, she said, showed a high level of commitment to their tasks.